Clay Waters

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Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center. His new mystery is titled Death In The Eye.

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What a difference an election makes: The annual pro-life March for Life, long ignored by the New York Times, led the paper’s National section on Saturday, driven by a little political star power in the form of Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway and Vice President Mike Pence. Jeremy Peters and Yamiche Alcindor’s account was teased with a photo from the rally on the front page: “Thousands March Against Abortion.” The headline read “A Rallying Cry, and an Act of Defiance.” The text box: “Anti-Abortion Marchers Take Hope In Trump’s Outspoken Support."


It happens every year in late January -- the annual March for Life, the 44th edition happening today -- around the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion. It reliably draws to the nation’s capital tens of thousands of pro-lifers out into the winter cold, only to be virtually ignored by a paper that routinely gives out space to far sparser liberal protests. Yet January so far has actually brought a little bit of pro-life coverage. What will tomorrow's paper reveal about today's March for Life?


New York Times reporter Nicholas Fandos fact-checked President Trump under the leading headline “The Truth Behind a Lie on Voting Fraud.” The paper is quite pleased with its new word, like a child who learns a bad one, and shouts it as often as it can. The online headline was even more blunt: “Trump Won’t Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Here Are the Facts.”But is Trump stating a proven falsehood? No, although he provides no confirming evidence. But that’s not the same thing as a conscious lie. The Times then did its best to downgrade a previously respected piece published at the Washington Post to a mere blog "hosted" by the paper.It then did its best to downgrade a previously respected piece published at the Washington Post to a mere blog "hosted" by the paper.


New York Times right-of-center columnist Ross Douthat diplomatically but thoroughly documented the liberal bias and anti-Trump animus in the mainstream press. Of necessity, he avoided criticizing his own paper, but some of the shrewd points he made in “The Tempting of the Media” on Sunday certainly apply to journalists at his own paper. Douthat summarized “two common views among journalists about the fate of our profession under the presidency of Donald Trump,” one of a crackdown on independent journalism, the other “a golden age...for serious investigative journalism.” But he had another worry: "hysterical oppositionalism" to Trump.


New York Times media reporter Jim Rutenberg used the D-word in his latest excoriation of the new president in “The Costs of Trump’s Brand of Reality.” “Disinformation was once for dictatorships, not the U.S.”...was how Rutenberg's story was plugged on the front of Monday’s paper, for his “Mediator” column on the front of Business Day.


"Dark” was the New York Times’ theme for Donald Trump’s Inaugural Address, even in the banner headline that began the paper’s coverage of the 45th President. It also happened to be liberal Democrats' favorite criticism of the speech. Mark Landler wondered: "The question left hanging after this angry jeremiad: How will the new commander in chief be able to work with these people to govern the country?"


As if trying to poison the Potomac water for the new president on his first day in office, the New York Times Inauguration Day off-lead story tried to wrong-foot Trump the moment he takes his hand off the Bible: “With an Oath, Complications In Hotel Lease – Ethical ‘Minefield’ for the President-Elect” by Eric Lipton and Susanne Craig. The jump-page headline, “At Trump Hotel in Washington, Champagne Toasts in an Ethical ‘Minefield.’” The online teaser was blunt: “From the moment he is sworn in, Mr. Trump may be in violation of a lease with the federal government.” Less-hostile explanations were ignored.


The front of the New York Times Arts section featured an exhaustive report on the controversy over the world-famous Rockettes performing at Donald Trump’s inauguration: “Still Kicking, but No Longer Silent.” The text box was harsh to Trump for ruining an American tradition: “A Trump Inauguration Casualty: The Silent, Smiling Rockettes."


The New York Times went to enormous (and utterly unsubstantiated) lengths to portray former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as a oil-man rube over his head as the potential Energy Secretary, in “Perry Seeks Cabinet Job He Initially Misconstrued.” 


New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg stood up for the government bureaucrats and left-wing paranoids in D.C. and gave them laudatory coverage: "...as Mr. Trump’s inaugural draws near, in a nation so deeply divided that it seems the political middle has entirely disappeared, perhaps no place in America feels as unsteady and on edge as the capital, which Mr. Trump calls 'the swamp.'...With his 6 a.m. Twitter blasts and chaos-sowing style -- and a roster of conservative Cabinet picks eager to do an about-face on President Obama’s policies -- Mr. Trump has upended the city’s rhythms and jangled its nerves."


If its frantic anti-Trump post-victory coverage hasn't given it away, a new internal report from the New York Times made clear the journalistic organization has failed to learned anything from Trump’s election victory. While the 8,700-word report and an accompanying memo from the brass emphasized the need to improve the race and gender diversity of the paper (but with fewer editors), it said nothing about the ideological groupthink that enabled the entire paper to be blindsided by the Trump phenomenon. “ Reporter David Chen tweeted: “NYTimes recommends fewer editors, more visuals, more diversity.” There was plenty of nuts-and-bolts criticism offered, and some warning signs for conventional reporters and editors, but nothing to suggest that the paper needs to expand its political vision to encompass more of America.


The front of Monday’s New York Times presented some truly groundbreaking journalism: President Obama likes to read. Book critic and Obama idolizer Michiko Kakutani’s long farewell piece was plotted to make the departing president look like a thoughtful intellectual: “How Reading Nourished Obama During the White House Years.” It’s the sequel, awaited by no one, to her front-page report from January 2009 featuring then president-elect Obama on the eve of his inauguration, where she credited him for his "love of fiction and poetry” that “imbued him with a tragic sense of history and a sense of the ambiguities of the human condition," as opposed to departing president George W. Bush's "prescriptive" reading that merely provided a black-and-white "Manichean view of the world."


As Inauguration Day draws closer, Monday’s New York Times lead story by Yamiche Alcindor all but called the president-elect a racist: “In Trump Tweets, Blacks Perceive A Callous Rival – Some To Skip Inaugural – Democrats Voice Anger After Trump Impugns a Civil Rights Icon.” She also smeared Sen. Jeff Sessions as a racist. Also on the race front, the NYT compiled a huge, amazingly gushing collection of interviews with kids whose lives were transformed simply by being in the presence of The One.


If first lady Michelle Obama and losing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton want salve for their sorrow at Trump’s election victory, they can peruse the front page of the New York Times Sunday Styles section for consolation. Fashion writer Vanessa Friedman started with a tribute to the political significance of the first lady's sartorial elegance,  “How Clothes Defined Her – No first lady understood the role of fashion, and the potential uses of it, better than Michelle Obama.” A college of Michelle Obama in various stylish outfits took up the top half of the page. Also featured: The royal treatment losing Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is receiving in her spiritual home of Manhattan:


Jeffrey Fleishman, arts and film writer for the Los Angeles Times and its former Cairo bureau chief, waxed insufferably eloquent about the departing President Obama’s oratorical skills in a pandering panegyric: "Obama’s legislative legacy may be in jeopardy from President-elect Donald Trump, but the grace of his prose will endure....His sentences soothed and stung, coaxed and challenged, drawing fits from his critics while urging his supporters to seek moral and political transcendence..... But the soul of his sentences -- the resonance, depth and musicality -- hark back to Abraham Lincoln and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., with a bit of Nelson Mandela’s sparse stoicism stirred in..."


The New York Times a saw a rough road ahead for Trump cabinet choices. Meanwhile, media reporter Jim Rutenberg documented the latest go-round of Trump vs. the mainstream media, which Rutenberg claimed were “Outgunned, Outmaneuvered and in Need of a Game Plan.” And his NY Times colleagues provided a backhanded compliment, saying the president-elect’s social media wasn’t all “anger and spittle.”


When Donald Trump mentioned Nazi Germany in reference to a lurid document floating around U.S. intelligence agencies, the New York Times was shocked and appalled -- and deeply hypocritical, given the eagerness of the paper's reporters, editors, and columnists to make those same comparisons against Donald Trump.


The front page of the New York Times on Tuesday featured a hit-job against Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, by reporter Noam Scheiber, “Trump Education Pick Plays Hardball With Her Wealth.” Scheiber, formerly of the left-wing New Republic magazine, is a passionate fan of a $15 minimum wage, and his left-wing leanings are evident in this long hostile profile of DeVos, which included slams at the left’s favorite villains, activist libertarian businessmen David and Charles Koch.The ideological article, full of both personal insults and ideological assumptions, would not have been out of place at The New Republic, or even the hard-left The Nation magazine


The latest conversation from the joyless liberal New York Times movie critics A. O. Scott and Manohla Dargis tacked race and class. The online headline was provocative to the point of offensiveness: “Watching While White: How Movies Tackled Race and Class in 2016.” Dargis, the more radical of the two, proclaimed herself pleased that Hollywood isn’t telling quiet as many lies about American greatness and white superiority, and asserted that "Movie critics, who are largely white and male (see the numbers!), seem stubbornly reluctant to engage with race, at least as it pertains to whiteness."


Would an Attorney General Jeff Sessions wreck civil rights? Several newspapers seem to think so, including Monday’s New York Times, which tried to poison the well against him as his confirmation looms. The long front-page profile of Sen. Sessions of Alabama, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, hid its hostility and labeling slant under the benign headline, “Bonding by Bucking the Establishment.”